cartagena independence
Photography, South America, Travel

Crazy Cartagena Independence: Colombia

Cartagena Independence

***Please pardon the pictures as all were taken on an iPhone 3G. No good camera should be taken out during festivities like these.***

I had no clue that we were sailing into one of the biggest celebrations that Cartagena has seen in a long long time. Cartagena independence.

We somehow accidentally scheduled our catamaran trip to land on the night of November 10 – the night before the official bicentennial celebration of Cartagena (11/11/11 – HOW COOL IS THAT?!). First of all – Colombians are already known to party freaking HARD. Then you add a bicentennial on it?

Cartagena Independence parade

Good lord.

The first few days we hung out with the Santana crew taking part of the festivities, going out for drinks, dancing the night away, etc. We were really digging it. We laughed when every person came back to the hostel covered in paint and foam. Everyone was in a fantastic mood. The street food was great, the music was greater, and the energy.. OH THE ENERGY!

Street food Cartagena
We parked ourselves on the Old Town’s fortress wall for a few hours with friend enjoying the parade. The costumes were so bright and beautiful. People on stilts in yellow and purple silk costumes came waving flags and making the crowds bust into dance even though the sun was beating down on everyone. Foam was flying high, giggles could be heard. Everyone was in good spirits.

Anna and Thomas from the Santana Crew.

We walked home only to be confronted with a “gang” of young boys with blue paint smothered not only on their faces but on their hands. They cracked a knowing smile. I was their next victim. Four boys tackled me and covered me from head to toe in blue paint and corn starch. I was even so unlucky to have foam sprayed into my ear. Things definitely sound interesting with a perpetual crackle.

And then the novelty of it started to wear off.

After multiple days of said partying I was ready to see Cartagena for the city, rather than the spectacle we had been experiencing. Most of the Santana crew was in the same mindset as well.

We had been semi-held up and weapon-point TWICE (long story, maybe we will make it a blog post one day but we’re FINE and we have all our things).

We started hibernating in our rooms. We brought beer to be enjoyed inside.

Shaun and I went to the plaza to grab some street food for the night. As we headed out into the street we noticed a shift. More fireworks. More noise. Louder music. More people. The streets were slippery from the amount of foam.

Then tragedy stuck…

Our clean laundry was immediately covered in corn starch.

I had foam shot into my eyes point blank. People were coming out of the woodwork. As we held our foam doused street food hamburger to make a run for it back to the hostel it happened.


Bigger than a noise maker. Smaller than a bomb. We’ll call it a mini bomb. I had actually FELT the soundwave hit me. I swore I saw it. People screamed and for a moment I felt panic. Then laughter from the crowd ensued. Just a homemade massive noise maker. Hell, the police didn’t even move.

We made our way back to our hostel in a daze. We locked ourselves in our room, turned on some crime shows on AXN, and told ourselves, “Tonight is the last night. Everything should be better tomorrow right?”

8 thoughts on “Crazy Cartagena Independence: Colombia”

  1. Geez, I would want to leave too after being shaken up like that. The fun wears out when you’re trying to be the sensible one in the middle of a party. So glad you two are alright after being semi-held up – how frightening!! I do hope you share the story with us.

    1. @Patricia: The only thing is that we are often the sensible ones – it is just that on something of this scale we couldn’t handle it anymore. We will share the story in the future for sure.Too much to write about already.

  2. That’s insane! No way I could’ve handled that. I can enjoy some partying and celebration, but this is way beyond my limit.

    I’m interested to hear about your being held up a couple times. Glad you’re ok and still have all your stuff, but you can’t tease us like that! We’re curious now!

    1. @Ali: We barely were able to handle it. I think it was the energy in the air because we can handle huge festivals just fine (aka Burning Man) but this was too much. Too much aggression. Will talk about being held up another time. Too much content (or we would still be in Costa Rica if we discussed everything lol!). ♥

  3. Holy Sh*t! heavy experience guys. Glad you are ok! Hoping to hear more about the mugging @ weapon point. That’s exactlly the type of sh*t me and my girlfriend are worried about when we make it to Colombia. We still have 8-9 months to go and even have Colombain friends to orientate us, but still that doesnt totally relax us! I guess it’s just a question of luck or missfortune. Glad you still have all your “valubles”
    Buen viaje & Prudecia!

    1. @MUGS: Keep in mind that the city was a little more hectic than normal. Colombia as a whole is pretty safe and the big cities are just as safe as any other big city in the states. You have to keep your eyes open. You don’t want to walk naively around NYC and it is still a major tourist hub. I always hesitate to write bad things about Colombia because as a whole, this place is freaking amazing. You aren’t going to get kidnapped unless you’re really stupid and go into the wrong places. Bogota is supposed to be pretty hardcore and we’ve felt safe (just like we did in Mexico City). Just don’t walk alone at night and if you get a bad feeling, listen to it. I felt more scared driving through Guatemala City (2nd most dangerous city in the world).

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